HAPLESS buyers on an online sales site were left out of pocket by a woman who failed to deliver the goods, a court heard.

Sarah Jane Rowley left five ‘customers’ collectively £930 out of pocket, over five months.

Despite admitting her dishonesty, she was spared a jail sentence, as Durham Crown Court heard she suffers a personality disorder and could not recall offering the items on the internet advertising site Gumtree.

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Andrew Walker, prosecuting, said money was paid by different buyers for two iPhones, a Lego brick set, toy figurines and even a drone advertised by Rowley.

None were received by her customers, who were angry as some were intended as family birthday or Christmas presents, and replacements had to be bought.

Mr Walker said the drone buyer posed as another potential customer, and found it still being advertised by Rowley.

Police were contacted and Rowley, 38, of Watson Park, Spennymoor, was arrested, but made no comment when questioned.

Mr Walker said uncertainty as to her fitness to plead led the defendant to elect to bring the case to the crown court, where, following medical advice, she admitted five counts of fraud, at a plea hearing, in July.

Despite being considered fit to plead, sentence was adjourned pending further psychiatric assessment on the defendant.

Jane Waugh, for Rowley, told the court: “She has a complicated psychiatric history. Basically, though, she can’t remember committing the offences.

“The report says she suffers from a number of psychiatric conditions, including disassociative identity disorder, and borderline personality disorder.”

Miss Waugh said Rowley’s difficulties began in childhood and left her suffering anguish and other mental health problems, for which she received lengthy treatment six years ago, at a retreat in York.

“She appears well-adjusted on meeting her, but due to her psychiatric history she has a number of personalities which behave in different ways from her normal behaviour.”

Miss Waugh said the disorders result in the defendant suffering concentration problems and memory loss.

“So, she knew at the time what she was doing, but then her dominant personality took over, again, and she forgot what she had done.”

Miss Waugh added that Rowley has responded well to treatment in the community.

Passing an 18-month community order with a mental health treatment requirement, Recorder Peter Makepeace told Rowley: “If you had any means I wouldn’t hesitate to make a compensation order.

“But, if this was to happen again, the court would have to take a different course.

“My advice to you is to stay off Gumtree and similar sites on the internet.”